In our not-so-action-packed story, Alison is now sitting in on a support group for mutants with severe physical deformations.
So far, the group seems to have decided the words "body" and "beauty" are triggers. I have to chuckle about the idea of some sort of Political Correctness Singularity, in which every word gains offensive overtones to someone and the support group has to sit around in complete silence.
This is one of those areas where SFP both succeeds and fails for me. I can feel a lot of empathy for the characters whose bodies (oops! I said it!) have been so radically changed that they feel they have no place in the world. That's a comic archetype that goes back to The Thing and has always been really fascinating.
In this depiction of the support group, I could almost give Mulligan and Ostertag credit for providing a perfect illustration about how the well-meaning Self Esteem culture goes awry. Liquid-girl feels triggered by the word "body." Okay, so I've never been turned into a puddle... I can believe she's having a hard time. But instead of helping her process her trauma and grow stronger, the support group's approach is to basically reinforce her wound. It's no longer Liquid-girl's wound to heal--everybody else has to accept this wound as a sanctified part of her character and adjust their behavior to accomodate, even though it's perfectly clear that nobody is using the word "body" with the intention to hurt. How is that going to help her?
Then in the next page, we have a Fish-girl who basically calls bullshit on the whole "everyone is beautiful" platitude. At first I felt "Oh Christ, not another trigger," but then I realized I admired Fish-girl's stance. By the value of "beauty" she's most interested in (i.e., physical attractiveness), it's absurd to call her beautiful, and she knows it. She's accepting her new reality, harsh as it is, and looking for ways to make the best out of it. She's rising above the group mentality here.
Mulligan & Ostertag show glimpses of self-awareness in their writing, which makes me hope they at least acknowledge the other side of the equation when they present a scene like this. But not always. It's why SFP is a comic I find about equal parts interesting and exasperating.